Despite the first-half sending off of Cheikhou Kouyate, Crystal Palace were able to go on and win their third pre-season friendly this summer with a 3-1 triumph at the Select Car Leasing Stadium.
Kouyate was shown a straight red card by referee Keith Stroud on 31 minutes for his challenge on Royals midfielder Ovie Ejaria. That sending off forced Patrick Vieira into his first substitution of the match, as James Tomkins came on as a substitute for Nya Kirby to partner Marc Guéhi in central defence.
Prior to the red card, Palace were the slightly more dominant team in the first-45. Jordan Ayew positioned himself in a great spot to shoot from the edge of the Reading penalty area early on, but he slipped at the crucial moment having received a through ball from James McArthur. The same player poked the ball towards the Reading goal on 12 minutes after a Tyrick Mitchell cross but Reading were able to clear their lines.
Palace’s best effort of the half occurred on 16 minutes, as that man Ayew looked lively once again. Nya Kirby played the ball into the feet of the Ghanaian forward after a powerful run from Jean-Phillipe Mateta. Ayew hit a right-footed shot from the edge of the penalty area that forced a good save from Reading’s former Brazilian international goalkeeper Rafael Cabral at his near post.
With a minute of the half remaining, Jean-Phillipe Mateta was able to run through on the Reading goal but a heavy first touch allowed Rafael to slide in and deny him a shooting opportunity.
With their man advantage, Reading forced a series of corner kicks early in the second half. From one of those corners, Royals substitute Ethan Bristow forced a fine save from Vincente Guaita, with a shot from the edge of the box that was tipped over the bar.
On 53 minutes, a Joel Ward shot was deflected onto the Reading post. From the resulting scramble, Mateta was brought down inside the Royals penalty area and Keith Stroud pointed to the spot.
Matata calmly slotted the resulting penalty low to goalkeeper Rafael’s left-hand-side. Soon after scoring his penalty, Mateta was substituted. England U21 midfielder Conor Gallagher came on in his place to make his Palace debut, having arrived on a season-long loan from Chelsea on Friday.
Reading equalised through a John Swift free-kick on 68 minutes, which took a wicked deflection to wrong foot Vicente Guaita.
Patrick Vieira’s team were put under increasing pressure by Reading as the half wore on but the ten men were able to hold firm and re-establish their lead. On 80 minutes, Conor Gallagher played a pass into Ayew, who was able to run at the Reading goal before hitting a low shot past Rafael that went in via a slight deflection off Liam Moore.
Palace were awarded a stoppage time free-kick for a foul on the lively Gallagher. Substitute Scott Banks fired the resulting set piece into the top of Rafael’s goal with what proved to be the last kick of the game. Palace play their final pre-season game against Watford at Selhurst Park next Saturday before the big Premier League kick-off away to Chelsea on 14th August.
Reading: Rafael, Yiadom, McIntyre (Camara 69), Moore (c), Morrison, Tetek (Bristow 46), Laurent, Swift, Ejaria (Puscas 56), Azeez, Joao (Trialist 56).
Subs not used: Southwood, Holmes, Dorsett, Ehibhatiomhan.
Palace: Guaita, Ward (Clyne 70), Kouyaté, Guéhi, Mitchell, Riedewald (Rak-Sakyi 70), McArthur, Kirby (Tomkins 35), Ayew, Mateta (Gallagher 55), Street (Banks 78).
Subs not used: Butland, Matthews, Kelly, Hannam, Boateng, Wells-Morrison.